27 Oct 2022

Collaboration, Collections, and Climate Action at Dublin City University

Members of DCU Library's Special Collections and Archives team
(Liam O'Dwyer, Gordon Kennedy and Killian Downing) before the launch of
Politics in a Changing Ireland, October 2022. 

Guest post by Killian Downing. Killian is an archivist at Dublin City University Library, with experience in collections management and digital cultural heritage. Killian is a councillor for the Europeana Network Association and a board member of the Archives and Records Association, UK and Ireland. Killian is also a member of the DCU Green Committee and co-chair of the Europeana Climate Action Community.

I started working in DCU Library in March 2020, when the words pandemic, unprecedented, PPE and pivot were slowly shaping society and the future of libraries. DCU, a young and vibrant university, was transformed by the pandemic, as was the library’s collaborative multi-campus response, which provided meaningful support and refuge to students and staff alike, many of who were working on the frontline or supporting the healthcare sector.

DCU library staff innovated and prioritised opportunities using digital technology to ensure our services remained relevant, intuitive and accessible. Earlier this year, the Special Collections and Archives team launched a new Charles J. Haughey exhibition in the O’Reilly Library titled Politics in a Changing Ireland complementing an existing Google Arts and Culture digital exhibition, both of which feature archives never seen by the public before. 

With extensive collections on modern Irish history, politics and society, the Special Collections and Archives team continues to process, catalogue and digitise its collections using open-source platforms, AtoM and Omeka, with iterative workflows, allowing discovery through DCU library's new platform, Ex Libris Alma and Primo

At the IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Dublin this year, I was delighted to be part of a climate action panel discussing approaches libraries can take to advocate for, and embed, working practices that minimise the sector’s impact on the environment. I would especially like to direct any libfocus readers to two inspiring and thought provoking presentations by IFLA co-panelist, Nkem Osuigwe, Human Capacity Development and Training Head, African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA), Ghana, titled Climate Equity: A Manifesto for Libraries and Stuart Hunt, Director of University Library and Collections Services and University Librarian, University of Reading, UK, with his presentation Sustainability and the Green Library: Strategies for the Climate Crisis. DCU is working to support staff and students and articulate its role within the climate emergency and assess the environmental impact of our work as part of its ongoing Climate Action Plan.

Working with Europeana, I’ve been part of a growing Climate Action Community advocating for collective action to support environmental sustainability within the Europeana Network Association, which now has over 120 members across Ireland. In addition, Europeana Essentials, a free resource supporting communication and presentation skills for anyone to use is now available online. Europeana has also recently championed the Youth for the Future of Cultural Heritage in Europe initiative to better support young, new and emerging professionals, and provide a platform to spotlight research, tackle issues and open up new collaborations. DCU Library is a member of the Digital Repository of Ireland, the national aggregator for Europeana, and the diaries of Irish diplomat, Se├ín Lester (1888-1959), are one of DCU's first digitised collections discoverable on Europeana, with more to follow.

It's been wonderful to see the inspirational international cooperation project realised by the Beyond 2022 team and partners this year who have opened up the Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland. This newly launched digital archive combines historical investigation, archival discovery, conservation and technical innovation to re-imagine and recreate invaluable archives lost at the beginning of the Irish Civil War. For the first time in 100 years, users can step back in time to explore a virtual recreation of the Public Record Office of Ireland and its collections which were destroyed in 1922.

2022 has been a transformative year for DCU and I'm beyond lucky to work with such a wonderful library team opening up new collections, fostering new academic and research partnerships, and connecting with existing and new communities. 

Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2022 | Categories: